After two consecutive victories and a No. 14 ranking in the STX/ NFHCA coaches poll, the Johns Hopkins Field Hockey team is off to an impressive start.
In both games, the Blue Jays showcased stellar defense, holding their opponents to just one goal in two games. In addition, the offense has come on strong, allowing the Blue Jays to knock off Scranton by a score of 4-1 and Haverford by a score of 3-0.
In their season opener, the Blue Jays played very aggressive hockey as they scored four goals in the first half.
Two of these goals were scored by junior forward Jenny Farrelly. Junior forward Heather Warnken and junior forward Kelly Hewitt scored the other two goals. Sophomore midfielder Anna Rehwinkel and sophomore forward Kate Mandel were both credited with assists in the game. However, much of the team's success in the game can be attributed to the stellar defense, which silenced the Scranton Royals until the final few minutes of the game.
In a testament to the team's strong defensive performance, goalkeeper and co-captain Missi Schafhauser needed to make just four saves during the contest. Jill DeStefano, Ashlee Duncan, Jen Rolston and Jenn Parker, her fellow captain, assisted Schafhauser by playing lights-out defense. In fact, the Royals only managed to attempt seven shots off the Jays. This was an impressive game in all respects and showed how well the Jays can come together as a team.
The Blue Jays demonstrated their talents in their second game of the season, as they shut out Haverford, a Centennial Conference rival. Freshman midfielder scored the first goal of the game--and the first of her NCAA career--with 17 minutes remaining in the first half. In the second half, Heather Warnken scored her second goal of the season to increase the lead to 2-0. Kate Mandel scored the final goal of the game. She scored after receiving a pass from Kelly Hewitt, who assisted on two goals. The defense was dazzling once again, as goalkeeper Missi Schafhauser recorded seven saves. The Haverford Fords were limited to just 19 shots while a powerful Blue Jay offense took 26 shots. The victory by the Blue Jays dropped the Fords' record to 1-1.
The offense has certainly made a complete turnaround from last year, when the Jays went seven consecutive games without scoring a goal. In contrast, the Blue Jays have scored seven goals in just two games this season.
"Our forwards have completely stepped it up for last year," commented Missi Schafhauser.
As a result of the Blue Jays' promising start, there is much optimism about the capabilities of this team. Kelly Hewitt, one of the team's three captains, has high hopes of winning the Centennial Conference and has her sights set on the NCAA finals. Hewitt's fellow captain, Missi Schafhauser shares this enthusiasm about the field hockey team. She recognizes that the way to a Centennial Conference championship is paved by a winning record.
"Our number one priority right know would be getting the top seed in the Centennial Conference," Schafhauser said. "We could then win the conference tournament and move on to the NCAA finals. We'll just take it one step at a time, though. We need to win as many games as possible so that we can get a high ranking in our conference."
One of the driving forces behind the Blue Jays' performance thus far has been the dominance of freshmen players.
"We have a solid freshman class this year," commented Hewitt.
Schafhauser added that the quality of the freshmen has forced her and some of the other upperclassmen to elevate their game. With more competition for starting spots on this team of 27 players, each participant must be at the top of her game at all times. Schafhauser admits that she has been motivated by the presence of two freshman goalkeepers.
"Anyone could start on any given day," she said.
Among the 10 freshmen on the team is Meighan Roose, who scored her first goal in the game at Haverford. She shares the enthusiasm of her teammates regarding the team's potential this season.
"I think we have a strong team with a lot of depth," she stated.
Hewitt and Schafhauser concur that team chemistry has played a huge role in the field hockey team's success. The team has bonded well and strengthens this bond each night by holding field hockey team dinners.
"I feel like one of our problems last year was that we didn't have team unity. This year, however, even with only three seniors, we have found leadership. Each girl has taken on her own role and each girl is a leader in her own way."
The next three games will be telling ones, as the Blue Jays will face some of their most challenging foes. Tonight at 7:00 at Homewood Field, the Blue Jays will take on the College of New Jersey in what promises to be an enthralling match. Their next opponent will be Salisbury at 4:30 on Wednesday, September 18. The Blue Jays will wrap up this intense three-game homestand with a game against Mary Washington at 4:00 on Saturday, September 21.